Daniel James and The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas

By John Palmer

When On Edge first launched as a website, one of our first articles was a book review of The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas (found here), so it’s nice to be able to give you an update and say that the novel is still going strong and is being rereleased.

Showcasing the work of former Northumbria students is important to us. We only publish work by current students, but being able to say, ‘look at what this former student has achieved,’ is a great feeling too.

About Daniel James

Daniel James is a former student who has an English Literature and Language BA Hons, an MA in Creative Writing, and an MRes in English Literature, all from Northumbria University. He was the original founder and editor of The Bleed, an independent arts magazine that had contributors from the USA to Japan. He was an arts and culture journalist, and in 2019, he published The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas, which was shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize.

Now, it’s 2022 and The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas is set to be published in May, in a new, definitive, special edition format by Valley Press.

About the novel

Ezra Maas is dead. The famously reclusive artist vanished without a trace seven years ago whilst working on his final masterpiece, but his body was never found. While The Maas Foundation prepares to announce his death, journalist Daniel James unexpectedly finds himself hired to write the untold story of the artist’s life, a book that many have attempted over the years, and no one has yet completed. The man who declined both the Turner Prize and the Nobel Prize and who is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century remains a mystery.

This is no ordinary biography. The deeper James delves into the myths surrounding Ezra Maas, attempting to find the truth that has eluded the media and the public alike, the more he is drawn into a nightmarish world of fractured identities and sinister doubles. Is Maas alive or dead? Did he ever exist?

A chilling literary labyrinth, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas blends postmodern noir with biography, newspaper clippings, artwork, photographs, letters, phone transcripts, emails, and handwritten notes to create a startlingly original debut novel.

The stunning visual content was created by an international cast of artists, including Hanna ten Doornkaat, Mike Corrao, Laura Barnard, Nick Loaring, The Printed Word, and Ella Holder from Tiny Golden Books.

Upcoming Event

As part of this release, Daniel James is taking part in an event with Graeme Macrae Burnet, who was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for His Bloody Project and has released a new novel called Case Study. This event will discuss the complex relationship between fact and fiction in the work of both authors.

Dr Claire Nally, an Associate Professor of Humanities at Northumbria University, will be hosting the event at Newcastle City Library. You can find out more about it here.

This will be a great event for anybody interested in literature and the art of creative writing.

For more about former students

For a look at what another former student has achieved, check out our interview with the novelist Chris Ord here.

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